UBC Theses and Dissertations
Student teacher attitudes towards children of different grade levels as indicated by the Minnesota teacher attitude inventory Rollins, Colin
Many writers consider it "desirable" that teachers hold "democratic" attitudes towards those they teach. A number of studies have indicated that the Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory (MTAI) may be used as an indicator of a respondents "democratic" attitudes towards pupils. Several researchers using the MTAI to study student teacher attitudes have shown that groups of secondary student teachers obtained significantly lower mean scores than did groups of elementary student teachers. This finding may indicate that elementary student teachers tend to hold more "democratic" attitudes towards the education of children generally than do secondary student teachers. Such an interpretation could serve as a basis for criticism of the procedures whereby candidates for secondary teaching are selected and trained. In this study, a rival interpretation was advanced and tested. The writer proposed that the aforementioned finding may indicate that student teachers generally hold different attitudes towards children of different age and grade levels. In an experimental test of this interpretation, the writer examined the credibility of three major propositions: 1. Secondary student teachers completing the MTAI read such general words as "pupil" and express attitudes which they consider to apply more appropriately to grade eight students than, to grade four students; however, elementary student teachers express attitudes which they consider to apply more appropriately to grade four students than to grade eight students. 2. Secondary and elementary student teachers obtain higher scores when they respond to the MTAI with reference to grade four students than they do when they respond to the MTAI with reference to grade eight students. 3. There is no difference between the mean scores of elementary and secondary student teachers when both groups respond to the MTAI with reference to students of the same specified grade level (either grade four or grade eight). Each of 294 randomly selected elementary and secondary student teachers in a one-year graduate transfer program received an Inventory in one of three forms: the MTAI in its standard form, the MTAI in a form requiring completion with reference to grade four students or the MTAI in a form requiring completion with reference to grade eight students. Scores of 214 respondents were arranged in a 3x2x2 factorial design with the following three fixed factors: the "MTAI Condition" for the subject (3 forms), "Sex" of the subject (2 forms) and "Specialty" of the subject (elementary or secondary). Twenty-four elementary and thirty-eight secondary subjects who completed the standard form of the MTAI indicated the grade level (either four or eight) to which they considered their responses to apply most appropriately. Their choices were tallied in a 2x2 contingency table. Results of a chi-square test supported the first proposition. That is, secondary respondents tended to consider their expressed attitudes to apply more to grade eight students than to grade four students, and elementary respondents tended to reverse the order of the grades. Results of analysis of variance and multiple comparisons did not support the second and third propositions. Neither elementary nor secondary subjects differed in their MTAI scores with reference to grade four and grade eight pupils. The results indicated that elementary subjects had higher scores than secondary subjects with reference to both grade four and grade eight pupils.
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